On our second 10 day hitch, the Eastern Wildlands Blue Crew worked in a region called the Beartooths in Custer National Forest. We were worked on two separate trails in the ten days we were there. For the first six days, we worked on Lodgepole Creek Trail. Our job there was to cut out all the baby lodgepole pine trees that were within 4 feet of either side of the trail. We were also responsible for using the chainsaw to cut out downed trees that had fallen across the trail. The area had been exposed to a wildfire in 2007, killing all the mature lodgepole pine trees and giving life to the new baby ones (the pinecones act as seedlings and were activated by the wildfire). We covered an estimated area of about 1.5 miles of trail. We used a variety of methods to uproot or kill the trees, including loppers, chainsaws, brush hogs, and our hands. Many of the trees were small enough to just pull out without a tool. We experienced some technical difficulties regarding our chainsaws. Two of our three chainsaws broke on the hitch, rendering them unusable until we could get back to Billings. There were a lot of rocks on the trail, making it difficult not to “rock” our chains when we low-stumped the pine trees. We worked over 300 man-hours on this trail, uprooting tens of thousands of trees. It was a 4 mile hike to get to the end of the trail, so most work days included an 8 mile hike. In the end, we were successful in the endeavor and made the trail a much nicer and accessible hike.

After the Lodgepole Creek Trail, we moved onto a different trail called Dead Indian Trail. Our job here was to maintain an existing trail using picks and pulaskis. We worked here for three and a half days. Our work was located almost a mile up the trail. The trail had not been worked on in several years and vegetation had started to grow back over the trail. Our job was to cut out the trail and restore the 45 degree backslope and flatten out the outslope. We were working on a steep hill and the hillside was filled with many rocks. As a temporary break, our crew made a game of watching as we tossed the biggest rocks down the hill and watched as they cascaded down the hillside and into the ravine below. Points were awarded to the rocks that made it all the way down. As we weren’t running any power tools, we didn’t have to wear ear protection. This, and the fact that we were all working close together formed good camaraderie among the crew. The work was slow-going, as we had a lot of earth to dig out. All in all, we covered an estimated 200-300 yards of trail. Our next hitch is to be on the same trail, and we look forward to continuing our progress where we left off.


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